By Pat Saxton
On Sunday February 13th some very lucky early birds got a chance to “walk with the pros” on a trial run of the bird trail. Dr. Mike Pienkowski, the leading ornithologist for the UK Overseas Territories and his lovely wife Ann, led a small group of “birders” at 6:30AM from the Osprey Beach Hotel around the Salinas.
The light at that time of the morning was truly spectacular to see and photograph some of Grand Turks wonderful birds. Dr. Mike pointed out Ruddy Turnstones (so called because they turn over stones to look for food), and different types of Plovers. Of course the flamingos were all out strutting their stuff for us to see! Ducks, and Herons and Gulls oh my!
Not only was this an informative morning, it was really a fun time.I learned so very much about this very fragile ecosystem we call “salinas”. It seems in “developed” countries, they are trying to duplicate what we have naturally right here in Grand Turk. Wet lands.
Unfortunately, all of us on the walk could see the damage being done to the Salinas because of dumping. Some Salinas had an incredible amount of birds feeding, while others were abandoned. Mike explained that due to filling in the Salinas, the silt gets too thick for the birds to hunt for food, so they leave. Luckily some of the Salinas have been protected.
After the tour, we came back to the Science Building for a question and answer session with Mike and Ann. I know I learned a lot, and although I continue to refer the Yellow Crowned Night Heron as Big Bird, I think Mike forgives me!